Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Business

Online tax preparation services compared

By now you may have your W-2, 1099 forms and the other documents you'll need to prepare your tax return. But the question remains: How are you going to file?

Despite efforts from tax software providers to make it easier for people to file on their own, many people still prefer to hire a pro. About 60 percent of taxpayers who filed electronically had their returns prepared by a professional last year.

Outsourcing the process can seem like the best option for people who don't have the time to wade through forms and crunch numbers, or who are intimidated by filing their taxes. Hiring a professional can also be worth the expense for taxpayers who need guidance with taxes after a major life change, say after having a child or buying a home.

The average tax preparation fee from an accountant is $273 for a standard federal tax return with a schedule A for itemizing deductions (instead of taking the standard deduction) and a state tax return, according to the National Society of Accountants.

And then there's the DIY way. Someone doing their own return online with software from one of the major tax preparation companies could pay more than $100. Because tax companies package their services differently, prices can vary from one online tax preparer to the next.

We compared what it might cost to prepare a return with four of the largest companies offering online tax preparation services. Here's a look at what you might pay for tax software, based on the complexity of your tax return. Prices are as of Jan. 29.

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